Applies to: iPhone and iPad IOS 13+,
If you find that you come across (or yourself write) short chunks of text that you need to translate on the fly, like Facebook comments or an email, here is one solution.
You can copy the text to the clipboard, and then you can use a shortcut to translate the contents of the clipboard using Microsoft’s translation engine. You can activate the shortcut in several different ways. We’ll take each of these steps in turn:
Copying text to the clipboard
There are three main ways you will achieve this:
- With VoiceOver enabled, using the three-finger quadruple tap which copies the last spoken content to the clipboard;
- With VoiceOver enabled, by using the text selection and edit>copy (or cut) options in the rotor, where they are available;
- By using a setting within a particular app where available, such as copying a Facebook comment or message with their dedicated “copy” buttons
Translating the text
Install this Paste and Translate shortcut on your iPhone or iPad. NB: If you prefer not to trust external shortcuts, are familiar with creating shortcuts and want to make your own, see the bottom of this post for the actions I used.
Here are the steps for installing the shortcut:
- Select the download link on your iPhone or iPad that you want to install the shortcut on. Then select “Get shortcut”.
- Flick right repeatedly (or scroll down) till you find the “Add untrusted shortcut” button and double tap on it. (Apple labels all external shortcuts as “untrusted” because it can’t verify their authenticity).
- Choose which language text should be translated into. Select the “Choose” button to pick a language, then select the “Done” button.
Activating the shortcut
Now it’s time to decide how you want to access the shortcut. Here are your options. You can use any or all of the following:
Siri will respond to the name of the shortcut. By default, it’s called “Paste and translate”, but you can rename it from the shortcuts app if you like by selecting the shortcut > Details.
Assign a VoiceOver gesture to it
This is very efficient if you’re a VoiceOver user. To do this, go into settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Commands > All commands > Shortcuts. Double tap on “Paste and translate” and select your preferred gesture (it will save automatically once done). VoiceOver will warn you if you are about to assign it to a gesture already in use so you can decide if you really want to use that one.
Access it from the share sheet
The shortcut will appear in the share sheet by default (if you don’t want it to, that option is under ‘details” when you select the shortcut from within the Shortcuts app). To activate it in the share sheet, look for “Paste and translate” in the list of actions.
Add the shortcut to your home screen
To do this, select the shortcut from within the shortcuts app. Then select “details” and the “Add to home screen” button is under there. By default, it’ll appear last on the first available page of apps so not necessarily on page 1. It you want to move it, you can edit its placement just as you would with apps or other home-screen icons.
Problems/questions/other useful translate shortcuts?
Post in the comments below.
Creating your own shortcut
Assuming you have basic familiarity with creating shortcuts, you can, of course, create a translate shortcut in any number of ways. Here are the actions I used. I list the action followed by the syntax configured once selected.
Get clipboard > Get clipboard
Translate text with Microsoft > translate [clipboard] from [detected language] to [# choose your preferred language)
Show result > show [translated text]
Then set the options under “Details” as desired (re share sheet, home screen icon etc.)